June 8, 2020

At times, it feels like our world is spiraling into chaos and uncertainty. It’s hard to know what to plan for next week, let alone next month or year. It’s hard to know how we can do the most good for all and how to stand-up for what is right. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely reshifted how many communities and nonprofit organizations are functioning on a day-to-day basis, while still trying to plan for the future. On top of that, our country is fighting to address the social injustices that are still happening today between acts of racism and hate crimes.

If you are like me, you want to know what you can do to help. You are also ready to start planning for what’s next. You are ready for something to look forward to. You may also be feeling a bit helpless in knowing what to do next that is both positive and will have a lasting impact on the communities that need us more than ever. 

While I am not a huge runner, I am grateful for the Staycation Races Stay Home virtual race that closed it’s fundraising deadline on May 25th. This race gave me and over 20,000 people across the nation the motivation to get out (wherever and whatever that might have looked like in various U.S. cities and towns), get moving, all while supporting amazing causes that make communities great!

Within a span of 7 weeks, community fundraisers were able to raise over $19,000! The community fundraisers were also able to choose the community beneficiary that was important to them to direct these funds. We ended up with funds going to 11 different food banks, 4 organizations that are providing direct support to frontline medical workers, 6 restaurants/small business supports, 4 organizations that provide support to the most vulnerable populations, 1 organization that is doing invaluable research on COVID 19, 1 organization that supports the preservation and conservation of public lands and even a horse rescue!

This was not the only recent race that Vacation Races (VR) completed that provided support to local communities. Vacation Races was able to hold the Bryce Canyon Ultras as an in-person event (while still providing a virtual option for those that preferred not to participate in a group event or were still under stay home orders within their states). Wander Project had two 100-mile charity bib racers at the event and together with other donations, we were able to raise over $7,000 for the community in and around Bryce Canyon National Park. 

This might not have felt like the normal VR event, with a full expo and celebrations at the finish line; this is one way our partnering company is working to adapt to various restrictions and new regulations. While many of this year’s races are canceled, we are excited about the opportunity to learn and grow with VR, while figuring out how to keep people safe and active. 

For the remainder of the 2020 race season, we at Wander Project are cutting our fundraising minimums in half, starting with the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon on August 1st. We are hoping that this lower fundraising goal will inspire athletes to join us in our efforts to support these smaller communities that have been greatly affected by the pandemic. 

We will also continue to support YOUR local communities through the Virtual Running Club’s virtual races. Now through July 19th you can sign up to be a community fundraiser for the Backyard Ultra series and 90% of the donations you bring in will be allocated to a community beneficiary of your choice.

If you are a nonprofit organization or a small business, you can create a community fundraising team to support your efforts as you navigate the ever changing circumstances facing your daily business. The virtual option will be a part of the Wander Project’s new normal as we hope to support nonprofits in working towards your inspiring missions to help local communities.

Our hope is that by engaging as big of a community as possible, that we can use the running (virtual and in-person) and fundraising platform we have available to us to help support positive change! I believe we can have a voice to stand-up for what we believe is right and important, while sharing our passions for wandering (and maybe even running). 

About the author 

Amy Ben-Horin

Amy has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 14 years. While her work has primarily been focused within the youth and education realm, she, like most people in the nonprofit sector, has worn almost every hat imaginable, including co-founder for an organization in 2014. Amy has also had the honor of presenting at TEDx Vail in 2016, sharing what she believes is the key to helping youth reach their full potential. Stepping into the role of Executive Director for another start-up organization, Amy is passionate about service to others and is extremely excited to help support the amazing mission of Wander Project.

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